We’ll always have Paris

Story by Shauna Quinn

Summer 2024

It has been six years since the world last properly gathered to witness the pinnacle of athletic achievement, cheering on our nation’s finest as they vie for gold across a myriad of sport. As France prepares to host the much-anticipated 2024 Paris Olympic Games this July to a staggering 10 million ticket holders in the stadiums and countless more tuning in from the comfort of their homes (the COVID-delayed Tokyo Olympics in 2021 did not allow spectators), the anticipation is reaching fever pitch.

For the first time in Modern Olympics history, the Opening Ceremonies won’t take place in a stadium, but along the Seine River in northern France, with 600,000 spectators in attendance. This bold departure from tradition marks a significant evolution in sports culture, capturing the curiosity of enthusiasts worldwide.

Having worked six Olympic and Paralympic Games from Sydney 2000 to Vancouver 2010, this was a hard experience for me to pass up. Approached for a Games contract in early 2023, my family explored the interminable level of planning required for me to fulfil a short-term secondment in Paris – and lifelong pursuit of a passion. You see, as a fluent bilingual, an expert in large-scale public events, and having spent time as a teenage fille-au-pair in France, this moment had come full circle.

I’ve heard that passion and balance are incompatible. With a busy family life in Airdrie – juggling between being needed and not, commitments and opportunities, the can we or can’t — staying put won.

Fluctuat nec mergitur (She is rocked by the waves, but does not sink) has been the Latin motto of the city of Paris since 1853. Perhaps it should also be mine.

Perhaps it is this that drives my passion to grow Airdrie’s sports tourism profile. Our city may never host the world like a Paris, but we have launched many athletes throughout the years to elite levels of athletics, including Olympians. We produce provincial-champion teams, our hosting accolades are impressive and our community spirit is second-to-none.

With a new recreational facility on the horizon and a future regional park on the horizon with a focus on outdoor activities, sport and culture, meeting community needs is the top priority. The benefits of participating in recreational sport are well-documented. It fosters strong social bonds, safer places and healthy communities.

Yet, the prospect of leveraging sports tourism to bolster our economy and instil civic pride presents a delicate balance to be struck. Airdrie, with its vibrant spirit and strategic location, holds immense potential to emerge as a sports hub, offering accessible and affordable spectator experiences to residents and amplifying the charm of small-city life. The sense of community and positive social interaction with people from different walks of life as they come together, regardless of the sport, is often underestimated and deserves equal recognition for its investment in vitality and community prosperity.

If your summer travels find you in the stands, the sidelines or along the Seine, capture that moment when the roar of the crowd quickens the pulse and pride swells the heart. Then bring it back to Airdrie.

Until then, we’ll always have Paris.

Shauna Quinn is the Tourism Development Officer with the City of Airdrie.


The 2024 Paris Olympic and Paralympic Games are expected to generate a total economic impact of more than €10.7 billion and create more than 250,000 jobs in the Île-de-France region. Source: Paris2024